Government responses to the crisis such as curfews have had a disproportionate impact on women and girls. UNICEF has spoken of the ‘shadow pandemic’ of domestic violence, while the National Council for the Administration of Justice reported a spike in the number of sexual offences in the first three weeks of the crisis, constituting 36% of all crimes reported.
We are currently working with a network of twelve grassroots women human rights defenders in five urban settlements in Nairobi, who have been monitoring cases of sexual and gender based violence in the city. They have reported police turning down victims of these crimes on the grounds that it is ‘non-urgent’, and health institutions neglecting victims on the basis that the virus is more important. We will be hearing from Rachel Mwikali on the topic of gender-based violence and coronavirus in Kenya.
The outbreak has only made things worse for women human rights defenders in Colombia. Paramilitaries have ignored lockdown measures and have been targeting defenders trapped in their houses, particularly those working on environmental issues. Katherine Ronderos will guide us through the situation in Colombia, trends in repression, and what people are doing about it.
LSE academic Professor Christine Chinkin will lead the discussion, which will also feature Mandira Sharma on the situation as it affects her organisation and women in Nepal, a country whose experience of institutionalised gender-based violence has only worsened since the pandemic. We will also be joined by filmmaker Pamela Yates to learn about the situation for women human rights defenders as documented through her work.
Christine Chinkin, FBA is Emerita Professor of International Law, Professorial Research Fellow and Founding Director of the Centre of Women Peace & Security at LSE. She is a barrister, a member of Matrix Chambers. She is currently a member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel and was Scientific Advisor to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the drafting of the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
Rachel Mwikali is a grassroots women rights activist and feminist activist from Kenya. Today, she is the leader of Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders, a social movement for the grassroots activists and human rights defenders in Kenya. She also coordinates a Pan-African Grassroots Women Liberation Movement, which works to unite grassroots African women and empowers them to take up leadership positions. Rachael has been at the forefront in empowering women in informal settlements to take up leadership in the society.
Katherine Ronderos was the 2017 winner of the "International Young Women’s Peace Award”, from Open Democracy, in Yerevan, Armenia. She has featured in Colombian's mainstream media talking about the role of women in peacebuiding, women in disarmament and the prevention of sexual violence in armed conflict contexts. Previously, Katherine was the director of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Colombia (WILPF), and contributed to the inclusion of the gender perspective into Colombian peace process.
Mandira Sharma co-founded Advocacy Forum in 2001, Nepal’s trail blazing organisation of human rights lawyers. Mandira grew up in a remote area in western Nepal and, encouraged by her mother, became the first woman in her village to become a lawyer. She studied in Kathmandu and gained a scholarship to do her L.L.M. (Master of Law) at the University of Essex.
Pamela Yates is a documentary film director working in Latin America and the United States featuring women as the protagonists in stories of human rights and the quest for justice in a collaborative process of creation and outreach focused on making real change. She is cofounder of Skylight, a non-profit company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights.